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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1989 Feb;57(1):117-22.

Styles of self-nurturance and disordered eating.


This study explores the relation between self-nurturance and disordered eating. Both structured questionnaires and forms requesting open-ended descriptions of themselves and their parents were administered to bulimic (n = 18), dieting restrainer (n = 20), and nonrestrainer (n = 20) women. The use of food-related and non-food-related forms of nurturance was assessed, as were subjects' reactivity to positive and negative events, levels of dependency, self-criticism, and efficacy. Factor analysis of the various scales yielded three factors: Non-Food-Related Self-Nurturance, Negative Reactivity, and Food-Related Self-Nurturance. The results indicated that bulimics were less likely to nurture themselves in non-food-related ways and derived a greater percentage of their total self-nurturance from food than both restrainers and nonrestrainers. The results also indicated that bulimics engaged in a greater degree of negative self-criticism and reactivity to negative events than nonrestrainers. Differences between bulimics and restrainers are explored in detail. The results are discussed in relation to self-nurturance and its implication for the treatment of bulimia.

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